8-23-13 Friday (Day 1, Travel Day)

2013-08-23 013Mom and Aunt Donna took us to the airport for our 9:30am flight. TSA was pretty quick.  We boarded the plane and unfortunately sat right across from the lavatory.  Several times, unpleasant odors emitted … OK, it friggin’ stunk at times.  The flight was 5 hours long.  Most of the time we entertained ourselves by playing Angry Birds.

After a safe and mighty fine landing, we made our way to the baggage claim.  Jim called a car service (for $45 + gratuity) which was awesome.  A towncar was waiting for us right outside the airport doors.  The ride to the port was probably 30 minutes.  We checked our luggage in with the porters and walked into the cruise terminal.  Using concierge priority check-in, we got through the security quickly… well almost.  Their scanners picked up an iron that Jim packed (I wasn’t aware). Irons and candles are no-no’s.  They confiscated the iron and gave us a receipt for it.  We have to pick it up at the end of the cruise.

2013-08-23 023 Above: Claim Ticket of Shame.

Cruise ItineraryThe next stop was the cruise ship check-in. The line was long but with priority check-in we jumped the entire line and got right to an agent.  It was so awesome!

Once we boarded the ship we were greeted with a glass of champagne.  Gulp, gulp, gulp.  We stopped at some guess-the-price-of-a-painting-contest thingy... mostly because it was in our path.

Naturally with everyone boarding and using elevators, the wait time looked lengthy.  We found a different set to use at the other end of the ship.

Eventually we arrived at our cabin.  The size is typical for a veranda room but there’s storage galore.  We unpacked our knapsacks (laptops and CPAP) along with 2 carry-ons.  As for the 3 large suitcases, they’ll get delivered later. 

2013-08-23 018Above: On our veranda.

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Here’s a room tour video.  It was taken several days into the cruise:

We freshened up a little and headed to find some food.  The Oceanview Café has numerous buffet stations.  We ate lite since it was already 3:00pm and we have dinner reservations at the specialty restaurant for 6pm.  Our lunch view was of the Space Needle.

2013-08-23 020Above: A fantastic lunch view.  The tint gave it a weird color for the photo.

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Each evening, we get canapés for 2 in our room.  It was part of that concierge upgrade we got.  I don’t have photos of every night but I do have several.  Here’s our first night.

2013-08-23 025Above: Very small portions but perfect for a before dinner snack.  You can see the order form to the left of the plate.  This one was melon balls, humus (we started eating prior to the photo), olives and a light and flaky tortilla chip of some kind.

Dinner at the Tuscan, a delicious Italian restaurant.  Mmmmm so good.  It was the first of three specialty restaurants we purchased in a package. The ship had already been in motion for about an hour.  We were seated at the windows which over looked the back of the ship.  We started with bread service, 3 types to choose from. The waiter presented an antipasto selection on a tray.  Prosciutto, mozzarella, artichokes, etc.  Our appetizer, braised ravioli was good.  Next up, French Onion soup, pretty good.  Salad was arugula with fried goat cheese balls.  Our main course was a delicious and perfectly cooked filet mignon accompanied by sautéed spinach (not that great) and a good macaroni and cheese.

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As I said, the filet was great but we were warned at time of ordering that it would be cooked accurately but the light through the windows would make it appear well done.  He was right, even the juice on the place looked dark.

2013-08-23 028Above: Jim’s dessert plate.  The strawberry was coated in a hard sugar which had a long thin strand atop it. 

After that dining experience, we were thinking maybe we’d be spoiled for the remainder of the cruise.  Great service, yummy food, fantastic presentations and an awesome view.

The show for tonight was an introduction of sorts.  Some orchestra music and some dancers, nothing special.  Mostly it was all about meeting the cruise director and what we’d be experiencing for the week.

Miscellaneous:  Here’s some video tours of Lobby/Foyer areas:






8-22-13 Thursday (Packed)

Jim and I took to today off... tomorrow is the cruise.  Throughout this week, I took half days off so I could visit with my Mom and Aunt Donna.  I’d leave work at 12:30 and then pick them up to have lunch out and about.  We did some errands together and I even made cookies while they were here.  Aunt Donna helped.

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Today we packed.  I took care of health and beauty stuff, and Jim took care of clothing. 

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He’s fantastic at packing in such a way that we rarely have wrinkled clothes.  The drawback to him packing is that he overpacks… all the time.

2013-08-22 012Above: Three of the largest suitcases US Airways allows, plus 2 smaller carryons and 2 “personal items” (knapsacks). 

I have posts for each day of the cruise ready to publish.  I plan to post 1-2 a day so bear with me.

8-17-13 Saturday (Tipsy Painters*)

Prior to my mom and Aunt Donna’s arrival, I bought a Groupon to do one of those painting classes where you bring wine and have fun.  We’ve done one of these previously and had a lot of fun so I though this would be that unique thing we could so while Mom was in town.

2013-08-17 003Above: This is the artist’s painting we’re going to paint.

2013-08-17 001Above:  JoAnn (Mom), Aunt Donna and Jim.

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We had such a fun time!

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* Alaska trip posts will be coming soon!

8-16-13 Friday (Chili)

First I shall tell you about my new toy.  It’s the ChiliPad.  Basically a mattress pad with coils of water that runs through it.  You can heat or cool the pad.  I LOVE this thing.  We only got an XL Twin (half a king size) for me, for now.  Be it my fatness or my cholesterol meds or whatever else, I’m always ridiculously warm.  2 of my cholesterol meds have that side effect so who knows.  What I can tell you is that this pad rocks. Best investment so far.


Anyway, that’s my review of this device. 

Friday 8/17/13 Mom and Aunt Donna arrived today.  Tickets were a lot cheaper to fly them into Greenville, but that meant just shy of a 2 hour drive to pick them up.  Arrival time was supposed to be 1:55pm.  My aunt called to say that there was an hour delay.  It’s a good thing she called because I didn’t even think to check.  Mom and Aunt Donna were already at the airport in FL.  With that delay in mind, I went and checked the airport website who said it was on-time.  I then went to Allegiant’s website and it showed late.  I was at work and refreshed the page from time to time.  Another delay.  They weren’t going to arrive until 4:00.  I didn’t see them get off the plane until 4:30. 

The airport has metal birds hanging from the ceiling and since the place is under some sort of construction refurbishing, they dressed each bird in a construction outfit.  Complete with a mini hardhat, it was really cute.


It was 6:30ish when we got home.  Time for dinner.  We went to Union Street Bistro.  We’ve been there a few times.  This time they missed the mark.  Yes, it’s time for one of my bitchy, critical reviews.

We were looking at the menu when I said, “I think I’ll have the pork chop.”  My mom couldn’t find it on the menu so when I went to point it out on hers, it wasn’t there.  We realized I was the only one with a different menu.  We flagged down the hostess who was at her station only maybe 20 feet away.  She said that the menus had changed and wasn’t sure why some old ones got mixed in.  She took the 3 old ones, brought them to the podium and walked away.  We had to flag our server down to get 3 more.  Jim noticed some prices had went up, but they were still reasonable. 

The food.  Appetizers were good.  Mom had the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.  It was runny, flavorless and the chicken was overcooked.  I sampled it and agreed.  Jim had a stuffed fish of sorts and said it was good.  I had a pork chop.  It took a lot of work to cut that thing.  It was a little overcooked but I dealt with it.  The baked potato (hard to screw up) and veggies were fine.  Aunt Donna had a shrimp and artichoke dish.  The shrimp was tough.  She didn’t want to send it back.  We told the server and agreed that if they could just bring some fresh shrimp.  In the meantime we finished our meals and still no shrimp.  I spotted the server and said “we’re done with our meals and still no shrimp”.  She apologized saying the manager was involved.  I told her several times that it was terrible that a 2-3 minute cook-time shrimp would take so long.  A Manager came over with the shrimp, apologized and offered to comp the meal but we had a Groupon so he gave us 2 desserts. I never mentioned the fettuccine or the pork chop.

We’ll have to think twice about a return visit there.

Tomorrow we have a BYOB painting class!

8-10-13 Saturday (Protable Scales For Weigh)

First, I’ll catch you up on some photos that have been lurking in my phone and on my camera:


Dear neighbor,

Thanks for making the neighborhood trashy with your uncut lawn and a deflated balloon on your mailbox for like a week or something.  It sure was pretty.


Well, it really doesn’t matter

Yes, I took the photo below and no I won’t make political comments.


How about a lesson in proper English:


In case you couldn’t see it, it reads “Can’t nobody do me like Jesus!” Really. 

2013-08-07Above is my friend and coworker Jessica’s license plate.  She’s a Vegan.  Any guesses what this is all about?  Answer at the bottom…

That’s all the old stuff.  Let’s talk about the cruise again.  I started sorting through a Rubbermaid-ish bin full of “stuff” for the cruise and checking off the contents from my anal retentive packing checklist.  Don’t hate.  Someday you too can, never mind, you got it or you don’t.  So I came across the digital luggage scale I bought.  We need to be sure the luggage doesn’t go over the limit otherwise it’s a hefty charge.  Pause here and think about the need for a luggage scale.  Got it?  Not really?  Geez, as so many people ask “why not just use a bathroom scale.  Weigh yourself with and without the luggage and subtract the difference.”  Genius….. or not.  That may work for getting there but what about packing to come home?  See.  Right.  Ah ha.  Now let’s move on to my story and perhaps we can focus on your lack of problem solving skills later.  So, I took the scale out, inserted batteries and then saw the cover page of the owner’s manual.

Scale 1

Protable” Scale, did you catch that?  Damn you’re slow, go look again but hurry it up, we’re almost out of time.  See?  So I decided I had to checkout the contents of the manual.  Surely if such as major mistake was made on the cover, the inside would be filled with fun.  Ready?

Scale 2Did you know that with some of my blog elfin magic, when you click on a picture it will open a brand new, fresh as a Summer’s eve, window for your viewing pleasure?  Try it now.

Did you catch all those great examples of Engrish?  And finally, here’s the last page:

Scale 3

Amusing, huh?  The price I paid was even more amusing:

Scale 4

Yeah, I can deal with the spelling errors, and actually that’s probably a bonus to me.

On Friday, I went to a Chinese buffet and took a to-go container back to work.  My fortune:


It was really my fortune.  I’m so keeping it.  Jim and I just hope it has nothing to do with life rafts.  I must say though, typically if someone says “boats” wouldn’t you think of water?  So was it really necessary to say “boat and water”?  I know, it’s me.  I nitpick.  A lot.  On Friday night we arrived in Augusta.  I will be our last trip probably till September 6th.

Saturday we met up with Warren of Warren and Bob here at the campground.  They were on the same cruise ship with the same Alaskan itinerary 2 weeks ago.  It was absolutely awesome to ask about the sights, food, cabins, ship, ports, etc.  They had nothing negative to say… yes, I’m sure I’ll find something too.  Thanks for wondering.

In the eve we attended a farewell party to one of the campground’s full time residents, George.  He’s moving but will be back on weekends here and there.  It was so effing hot out, I think it was 95°.  I was dyin’.  Jim went back to the RV for a drink refill and brought me back a wet wash cloth.  That helped quite a bit.  Unfortunately we didn’t stay very long.


2013-08-07Answer: Think zombies, Vegan zombie.  Her husband, Cole, a meat eater, was going to get “BRAAINS” for his car but it wasn’t available.  Isn’t that hilarious?

8-4-13 Sunday (Rant – Rant)

Yes, I’m behind…

Reverse rant!

On Wednesday I had 2 doctors appointments.  In the morning a cleaning.  My hygienist is no longer at the dentist’s office so I got someone different.  Turns out I’m glad because until the new hygienist, I never realized how rough the previous one was.  I complimented her on her gentleness.  I almost fell asleep!

After work I had a follow-up eye doctor appointment for bi-focal contacts I’ve been wearing for 2 weeks.  I love this eye doctor and the staff.  When I walked in I was greeted with “hi Mr. Atherton.”  That’s my last name so she was talking to me.  Weird huh?  Anyway, what a great touch.  I know that it’s because she took a photo of me the last time.  I had a dentist who did that in Florida.  It was awesome to walk in the door and have staff greet by name. 

halfoffdepotWe had a house cleaning company scheduled for today at 5:30.  It was a Half Off Depot deal.  We’re having Jim’s sister-in-law and Grandma Kelly come this weekend and the house needed cleaned.  The company never showed up even though they had confirmed the day before!  Jim called several times.  We emailed.  Nothing.  Thursday passed (it’s Friday morning) and no return call.  We had to scramble to clean the house.  I’m pretty pissed.  Jim had to fight with Half Off Depot for a refund several times via email.  We got a credit on our account.  The only problem is they don’t have many deals so we don’t buy from them often.  We’d really prefer the cash back.  I’m not sure if he’ll continue the fight.

On Friday, Jim’s Grandma and sister-in-law Tonia along with Jim’s 2 year old nephew came for the weekend.  Very wide range of ages. 

Believe it or not, I cooked several meals.  Burritos, Flank steak, waffles, and quiche were some of the dinner/breakfast items.  I did that because every time we go to John and Tonia’s, they cook so I wanted to do similarly.  I can’t think of a better way to word that.  Leave me alone.

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2013-08-03 002Above: Are you gonna eat that?

We had a great time with Colton.  He’s such an awesomely well behaved 2 year old.  On Saturday we all went to Plaza Fiesta where they have this ginormous jungle gym thing.  He had a blast.  Tonia said it was the best $5 ever spent.

2013-08-03 018Above: Monstrous.  I did go up inside a few levels.

2013-08-03 009Above: Colton

2013-08-03 011Above: Blurred photo of Uncle Jim waiting for his nephew.

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2013-08-03 017Above: Tonia, da momma.

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For evening adult entertainment, Grandma stayed home with Colton while Jim, me and Tonia went to Piano Man, which is a piano sing-a-long bar.  We had so much fun. 

On Sunday we went to the Concord Mills Mall where it was crowded.  It felt like Christmas time or Black Friday.  It was a back to school tax free weekend.  Our main reason to go there was for Colton to ride the mall train.

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Above/Below: Grandma and Colton

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With Colton around, it was constant cartoons on TV.  I can’t believe that as adults, we get drawn into Disney Junior too.  Jake and the Neverland Pirates is a popular cartoon for Colton.

After they all left, TIVO has been recording children shows.  Holy crap, make it stop.